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In the OTU In the Official Traveller Universe. Any milieux that's been published in any edition. Not for discussion of rules except in reference to how they reflect the OTU

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Old January 31st, 2018, 09:33 PM
Garnfellow Garnfellow is offline
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Default Synthetics and Sophont Rights

I had an interesting thought: The Solomani Confederation is generally seen as a less enlightened society than the Third Imperium, largely due to the pervasive and odious ideology of Solomani superiority.

But on at least one point, the Confederation might actually be much more progressive than the Imperium.

Quote:
In the 17th year of the Imperium, Cleon Zhunastu declared, "Any sentient life form within the Imperial borders, regardless of its origin, is a protected being, and thus a citizen of the Third Imperium." Cleon went on to say that robots are not citizens of the lmperium. "One may argue that an intelligent robot might be sentient," stated Cleon,"but it is definitely not a life form." In taking this stand, Cleon clearly sided with the industrial interests in the lmperium by declaring robots to be property, not citizens.
Imperial Encyclopedia, p. 36.
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Androids are accepted as Confederation citizens if their mentality originates from a Solomani model. This view is not accepted by many member-states, who refuse to grant local citizenship.

Robots that do not conclusively exhibit artificial intelligence are treated as tools or machines. They have no rights or political status.

Computers and robots that do demonstrate self-awareness and Al capabilities are eligible for limited citizenship and status. Many legal proceedings have taken place where attempts have been made to prove the sentience of a man-made construct. Very few machines in our history have been able to pass this rigorous Turing-Ogunro test, however; many of those that have are almost legendary.
Solomani and Aslan - The Spinward Races p. 17
T5 makes a helpful distinction between robots, synthetics, and clones. Robots are clearly unliving, inorganic constructs and thus ineligible for Imperial citizenship, though they might qualify for limited Confederation citizenship. Clones are living, organic sophonts and eligible for citizenship in either polity.

Synthetics are artificial beings "blending organic (living) and mechanical (non-living) elements. Synthetic refers to the general class of created beings between natural and robotic" (T5 p. 92). Blade Runner replicants, rebooted Westworld hosts and rebooted Battlestar Gallactica cylons are all very close in concept to T5 synthetics. (Roger Moore's article on "Androids in Traveller" from White Dwarf 30 is also very close.)

Androids are a specific type of synthetic made in the image of a human. If patterned after a Solomani, an android qualifies for Confederation citizenship. But are they really living? As described in T5, sophontoids cannot reproduce or be cloned, and are only semi-organic. Which suggests to me they might very well be ineligible for Imperial citizenship.

Imagine, if you will, an underground railroad that smuggles Imperial androids, little more than slaves to the Megacorps, into the Solomani Confederation where they can finally be free. Really turns a lot of common conceptions on their heads.

Last edited by Garnfellow; February 1st, 2018 at 06:13 AM..
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Old January 31st, 2018, 10:27 PM
LeperColony LeperColony is offline
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It is an interesting dichotomy.

Though given how weak the Imperial central government is, I'd tend to think the position of planetary governments is more relevant to a synthetic's quality of life.
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Old January 31st, 2018, 10:57 PM
Fovean Fovean is offline
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I toyed with similar ideas for an ATU many years ago, envisioning a secret confederation of planets where people with augments, sentient robots and AI could exist peacefully in response to a sort of Shudusham (sp?) accord in the main empire. I had some vague ideas about the deeper you got into the area the more entrenched the technologies became until there was a single world (for now) that was essentially a massive AI, a global cybernetic group-mind.

It was turning into a sort of Underground Railroad/Black Curtain/Virus situation (which I was unhappy with - it seemed to have a mind of its own!) but ultimately the need for interstellar trade did them in; they weren't self-sufficient enough before they were being discovered and the cycle of prejudice/oppression continued. I didn't explore clones, chimeras, etc as this was strictly about cybernetics/robotics/AI. If I were to do it again, I have some better ideas how to handle it but alas.

I suppose an entity with the might/scope of the Solomani Confed could harbor/hide/support such an offshoot society but it didn't work with the other polities I had in place.

I think you're positing a cool idea but with the old "robots exist in the 3I, they're just in the background" meme I'm not sure anyone would notice or care. You'd have to make robotics etc a much more visible aspect of the 3I for the idea to take root as a playable campaign situation. Despite their 1e Cybernetics supplement, even Mongoose hasn't been able to do much with these ideas in a campaign sense.

Having said that, the OTU is upside down now with the revelations of T5 and Agent of the Imperium. I suppose anything's possible at this point.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 01:43 AM
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It's a world by world case thing.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by ShawnDriscoll View Post
It's a world by world case thing.
Yes and no. Yes, individual worlds within the Imperium present a tremendous variety of attitudes toward synthetics and this will be reflected in a tremendous variety of planetary laws. The Imperium grants member worlds considerable latitude in how they govern themselves, with few exceptions -- but those exceptions include some basic principles of sophont rights:

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Originally Posted by Article I of the Warrant of Restoration
The Imperium considers as citizens any living recognized sentient creature native to or naturalized by a member world of the Imperium, or any living recognized sentient creature swearing fealty to the Imperium directly. No immunity, protection, right, or privilege granted by the Imperium to a Citizen of the Imperium may be abridged or denied by any member world.
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Originally Posted by Article VI of the Warrant of Restoration
Chattel slavery shall not exist within the Imperium, nor in any territory directly under its control, nor on any member world, nor within any territory with which a member world shall have dealings.
A living sophont in the Imperium has the assurance that she can travel to any world in the Imperium and will still enjoy certain basic rights as a Citizen of the Imperium. She is still subject to the local laws of the member worlds, however unfair or arbitrary those might be, but she remains a Citizen wherever she goes.

A synthetic person enjoys no such freedom. Individual worlds may grant them significant local rights and protections, but cannot make them Citizens of the Imperium.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 07:55 AM
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Be aware of Onwee and Rust, two conditions suffered by robots, be they brained with Electronic Brains, Positronic Brains or Organic Brains. Would the Solomani Confederation be capable of helping such entities with those mental conditions? How about those entities with significant damage and yet online enough to still converse? What policies would be in place to aid those with physical damage?

Some side dish for thought.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Pakkrat View Post
Be aware of Onwee and Rust, two conditions suffered by robots, be they brained with Electronic Brains, Positronic Brains or Organic Brains. Would the Solomani Confederation be capable of helping such entities with those mental conditions? How about those entities with significant damage and yet online enough to still converse? What policies would be in place to aid those with physical damage?

Some side dish for thought.
The Solomani Disabilities Act has a section dealing with artificial life forms. Cargo ramps, emergency chargers and white noise generators (it soothes positronic brain fluctuations) are mandatory for corporations with more than 25 sophonts.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 09:07 AM
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Tends to come down to experience (past history) and ideology.

To some extent, the Confederation is both a mass of compromises and a harkening (and hankering) back to the Golden Age of humanity (spelled with a y), as how they interpret it.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by coliver988 View Post
The Solomani Disabilities Act has a section dealing with artificial life forms. Cargo ramps, emergency chargers and white noise generators (it soothes positronic brain fluctuations) are mandatory for corporations with more than 25 sophonts.
just curious, where does this appear in Traveller material?

Also, given the additional cost this would impose on businesses, small businesses would work very hard to keep below 25 employees. That is how it works in the real world. If you impose raised costs on businesses, they will work very hard to get around the bureaucratically imposed increased costs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a major reason why older buildings are not moderately renovated, as if work on the building is above a certain level, the entire building has to be brought within ADA compliance. For my church, as an example, to do that would run into the millions of dollars. For the public library that I served on the board of, it meant that putting in a storage area in a basement in a new building was not possible as that would require an elevator to be installed, driving up initial building cost and also maintenance cost.

Do you understand how much space cargo ramps would take up that is wasted from the standpoint of the businesses, along with all of the additional wiring and the annoyance of "White Noise" to the other employees?
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Old February 1st, 2018, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garnfellow View Post


Synthetics are artificial beings "blending organic (living) and mechanical (non-living) elements. Synthetic refers to the general class of created beings between natural and robotic" (T5 p. 92). Blade Runner replicants, rebooted Westworld hosts and rebooted Battlestar Gallactica cylons are all very close in concept to T5 synthetics. (Roger Moore's article on "Androids in Traveller" from White Dwarf 30 is also very close.)

Androids are a specific type of synthetic made in the image of a human. If patterned after a Solomani, an android qualifies for Confederation citizenship. But are they really living? As described in T5, sophontoids cannot reproduce or be cloned, and are only semi-organic. Which suggests to me they might very well be ineligible for Imperial citizenship.
Thinking about that synthetic snake in Bladerunner, or (I think I remember) the synthetic dog in Ghost in the Shell.

Do animal rights apply to synthetics patterned after animals?

Whats the point of synthetic animals if they have no appreciable difference to a real or cloned version, including having the same rights?

If there is a difference then we must look at their niche in the OTU and the niche for sophontoids in OTU society.

It seems to me that understanding their niche would indicate what rights they have or more particularly what rights they lack.

If you can define their role in society, you can imagine what rights they might lack. For example a sophontoid thats build to be a nurse for the elderly might lack the right to time off. An android built to double for a VIP (or Emperor) might not have the same legal protections as a sophont, no duty of care by the employer to provide a safe work environment i.e.you may get assassinated.

We probably don't have enough information to define that niche, but that doesn't stop us speculating. And synthetic and android characters in the wider sci-fi world are good material to use.
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